There is a huge, publicly-funded institution that not only escaped the progressive privatisation of the 1980s, it is still around and doing pretty much what it has always done for the last 90 years – unchanged, unchallenged and untouched.

The institution is paid for by 21 million citizens at the rate of £145 a year each and if you refuse, heavies in vans will come round to your house to force you to. The enforcers alone cost £123m a year but most of the money raised in this way, including from those who can't afford it, pays for BBC programmes. Programmes such as Cash in the Attic, Total Wipeout and Snog, Marry, Avoid. The name for it all is "public service broadcasting" and as a model for how media should be provided, it is disastrously outdated. The answer is something that should have happened in the 1980s: privatisation of the BBC.

In case you haven't noticed, the arguments for this privatisation have been gathering for years, like great black rooks on the roof of Broadcasting House. The most persuasive of them is the fact the licence fee model was created at a time when, like the NHS, the BBC was a national public service. For most people from the 1950s to the 80s, television and radio were the primary source of entertainment and information, but that hasn't been the case for a long time. The internet has taken over but no-one would ever suggest public money to fund it. We also now live in a multiple-channel world, all paid for by a range of different models including advertising and subscription. You can even create a channel from your living room and broadcast it on YouTube. We are all broadcasters now; no-one should need a licence to do it.

Even the so-called public service elements of the BBC have lost their significance. Take news. The BBC's news programmes are often held up as the best of the Beeb but they are not hugely better than their commercial rivals and in one case – Channel 4 News – they are worse. Children's television is just as bad. Perhaps when every child in the country watched Blue Peter, there was an argument for a universal charge, but there are now almost as many people in the Blue Peter studios as there are people watching it. Children are just as likely to be watching a digital channel, or looking at the internet, or playing with their Nintendo, all of which their parents chose to pay for. In the case of the BBC, we have no such choice. We pay for it whether we watch it, or – as increasingly happens in the days of falling viewing figures – don't.

And anyway, to pretend the BBC stays above commercial reality, like a lady lifting her skirts over something unpleasant, is nonsense. The BBC sells DVDs, it sells its programmes abroad and it has to compete with the private sector for sporting events. It also has to pay between £1m and £3m to many of its stars to prevent them going off to ITV. To make matters worse, it was revealed yesterday that some of those stars are paid through companies that can be used to avoid tax.

The solution is to privatise, to force the BBC to go commercial, to push the lady into that unpleasant world she's been turning her nose up at for years. There would probably be casualties (the World Service might struggle but then I've never much liked being taxed to pay for broadcasting abroad anyway). The benefits, however, would be great. Not only would we all be £145 a year better off – and there are many families who need that right now – the BBC would be forced to look at good commercial models to survive. HBO in America might be a good start; it makes shows such as The Sopranos. Or how about Sky Atlantic, which shows Veep and the new Alan Partridge?

All of this will probably be upsetting for some, particularly those who still think of the BBC in terms of Reith Lectures and Children's Hour, or are clinging to the idea that privatisation is bad. But what the BBC mostly does these days is nothing special or unique. It provides entertainment for the box in the corner, like hundreds of other broadcasters do. It should be treated, and funded, that way.